How much does it cost to run a home?

Congratulations on buying your first home! Now, how much are you putting aside each week to look after it? (You are putting money aside each week to look after it, right?)

The cost of being a homeowner doesn’t end at the cost of repaying your mortgage (which could go up if interest rates continue to climb). You will need to factor in the cost of running your home, too.

It includes but isn’t limited to things like rates; building, contents and mortgage insurance; heating, electricity and Internet costs; appliance replacement; maintenance such as exterior paint, house, roof and gutter washing, gardening, and an emergency fund.

It’s quite a list, but try not to let it get you down. Careful and judicious budgeting will help.

You might have had to prepare a living expenses budget for the bank, when you went for your mortgage, you might also have had to factor these figures in already. If so, you’re already a step ahead of most renters-turned buyers.

If not, it’s a good idea to pick up a few thrifty habitsget a better idea of ​​how you’re spending, and create a household budget.

One good tip: “pay” your costs before you spend anything else. Do that by setting up a home management account and paying the weekly sum you decide on into it. I hate to admit it, but great decor is not a priority.

There’s obviously a lot of variation in what a home costs to run – it depends on your location, the size and type of property, and the number and lifestyle of the people living in it. But here are some guidelines, based on a 100sqm, three-bedroom, ‘typical’ home.

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It’s worth setting aside a percentage of your home’s value to maintain the exterior.

“The annual job that people need to know about is washing your house, which prolongs the life of it,” says managing director of Maintain to ProfitMark Trafford.

“You’re looking at $ 400 for that. Then, if you live around trees, getting your roof sprayed and washed and cleaning the gutters – if you’re not going to do that yourself – is probably another $ 300 or $ 400. “

It could save you in the long term as you won’t need to re-paint or re-roof so quickly – “better $ 800 a year than a quote for 20 grand to replace your roof, and 15 grand to re-paint the house , ”He says.

Older houses, bigger houses, and some types of cladding material are likely to require more work than small new builds, and that is likely to cost more. Take time to assess your home and what care it might need.

As a rough guide, budget for at least $ 800 per year, or $ 15 per week, for exterior maintenance.

Mark Trafford says you might not need to set aside more than $ 800 per year to maintain your home's exterior.


Mark Trafford says you might not need to set aside more than $ 800 per year to maintain your home’s exterior.


No matter how well maintained your home is, emergencies can happen, and you’d be better off not chucking it on the credit card if you can help it. A slush fund for a rainy day is a good idea, especially for first time buyers.

Repairing broken pipes, replacing a broken appliance, fixing a hole in the roof, it’s not going to be cheap. Trafford suggests putting aside about $ 2000 aside for emergencies, as they could come one at a time, “or all come at once.”

“If your drains get blocked up and they have to dig them up, it’s going to be at least a couple of grand. Even if you dig the hole [rather than the plumber doing it], it’s still going to be a reasonable amount of money. So a couple of grand in an account for a rainy day is a good idea.

“I just don’t think people do that anymore. I think they’re reactive. That’s what they have credit cards for.”

But if you don’t want to max out the cards on a blocked cistern, budget to put aside about $ 40 a week.

A broken pipe could set you back two grand to fix.


A broken pipe could set you back two grand to fix.


The council files you ordered when you were doing you due diligence before buying will have details of the rates from your property.

Residential rates vary by council and property size, and value of the neighborhood. But for the purposes of this guide, we estimate that average residential rates are around $ 2572 annually, or about $ 50 per week.

Utilities shows the average annual power bill for a private home goes up by abut $ 100 a year as you move down the country: $ 2205 for Auckland, $ 2245 for Wellington and $ 2343 for Christchurch, illustrating the effect of heating on your costs.

Power costs will also depend on your usage, whether you use electricity or gas, and how efficient (and large) your home is – a good reason to start putting aside money for insulation and double glazing, right? But the national average is about $ 2265, or about $ 44 per week.

Cheap ways to save on your heating costs include insulating honeycomb blindslayering up your curtains, covered pelmets and door snakes, which all stop the warm air escaping the room.


This one thing you will need to be on top of before you settle, as most banks and lenders will want you to have at least building insurance before you take ownership of the house. You might want to work with a broker – like a mortgage broker, they usually have access to several insurance companies to get the best coverage bang for your buck.

Your premium will renew each year, and is influenced, among other things, by how at risk your home is perceived to be – for example, from fire, floods, quakes, or crime.

Another factor is the “construction of their house and value of their contents,” says NZ Brokers CEO Jo Mason. “Buyers will also be assessed. Criminal convictions, claims history and whether the buyer has had any insurance declined are all factors that insurers consider before providing cover. “

In terms of the infamous ‘fine print’, first-time buyers should look at the policy limits – the most an insurer will pay when a customer makes a claim – as well as the conditions, exclusions, and termination policy.

As there are so many variables, it’s almost impossible to give an average cost, but based on a low risk, post 1900s, 100sqm property, and a client with a good record, Mason estimates the premium might be about $ 1000 per year, or about $ 20 per week.


As a rough guide, budget at least $ 8637 per year, or $ 166 per week to run a 100sqm, three-bedroom, single story home.

Ella Bates-Hermans / Stuff

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